Volume 6 Chapter 26 | BYU Studies

Volume 6 Chapter 26


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Chapter 26

The Twelve Called from Eastern Mission—Governor Ford at Carthage—Nauvoo Delegation to Governor—Threats and Conspiracy against the Prophet's Life—Governor Ford Invited to Nauvoo to Investigate Conditions.

The Apostles Called Home.

Thursday, June 20, 1844 [continued].—I wrote to those of the Twelve Apostles who are absent on missions to come home immediately, namely, Brigham Young, Boston; Heber C. Kimball, Washington; Orson Hyde, Philadelphia; Parley P. Pratt, New York; Orson Pratt, Washington; Wilford Woodruff, Portage, New York; William Smith, Philadelphia; George A. Smith, Peterboro; John E. Page, Pittsburgh; and Lyman Wight, Baltimore. Also to Amasa Lyman, Cincinnati, Ohio, and George Miller, Richmond, Madison county, Kentucky. I sent the letters by express by Aaron M. York to the Illinois river, on account of the stoppage of the mails.

At 8 P.M. Thomas Bullock came and read to me the affidavits of Isaac Morley, Gardner Snow, John Edmiston, Edmund Durfee, Solomon Hancock, Allen T. Waite, James Guyman, Obadiah Bowen, Alvah Tippetts, Hiram B. Mount, and John Cunningham, with the affiants; and afterward the affidavits were all sworn to before Aaron Johnson, Esquire.

Ten P.M. John Pike and Henry Gates went to the quarters of the Major-General, and informed him they had seen a number of men driving about three hundred head of cattle in the direction of the mob camp. The drovers reported themselves as having come from Missouri, and were about nine miles from Nauvoo.

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A Prophecy—No Gun Fired on Part of Saints.

I gave directions to Theodore Turley to commence the manufacture of artillery. He asked me if he should not rent a building, and set some men to repairing the small arms which were out of order. I told him in confidence that there would not be a gun fired on our part during this fuss.

I extract the following from a letter from Robert D. Foster dated "Carthage, June 20th, 1844, to John Proctor, Sen., Nauvoo."

Letter: Robert D. Foster to John Proctor—Fragment—Instruction as to Property.

We have a hundred barrels of flour here for the folks, and Nauvoo has no means to live, only from the country, and that is cut off sure There are thousands of armed men ready now and thousands more coming from Missouri and the country around. Tell John to sleep in the barn, and take care of fire and robbery, and all my things there, as I shall be home soon. Tell Amos Davis to keep his eyes open, as we learn that consecration law will soon commence on him. This we know, and he had better look out sharp. Let him read this sheet. Tell Norton Gibbs and all my boys that I should be glad to see them a minute, but I cannot come. They must be patient and faithful, and I will be there and reward every man according to his desert; and I won't forget the perjured villains there either.

Hyrum Smith's Fidelity to the Prophet.

I advised my brother Hyrum to take his family on the next steamboat and go to Cincinnati. Hyrum replied, "Joseph, I can't leave you." Whereupon I said to the company present, "I wish I could get Hyrum out of the way, so that he may live to avenge my blood, and I will stay with you and see it out."

Friday, 21.—About 10 A.M. I rode out with my guard up Main Street past the Major-General's quarters, and reviewed the Legion. I returned to headquarters about 2:30 P.M., having met Col. Elam L. Freeman and Mr. Bartlett, who came as express from the Governor who had arrived at Carthage this morning, and they delivered me the following letter:

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Letter: Governor Ford to Mayor and Council of Nauvoo Asking Representatives to Meet him at Carthage.

Headquarters Carthage, June 21st, 1844.

To the Honorable the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Nauvoo:

Gentlemen.—Having heard of the excitement in this part of the country, and judging that my presence here might be necessary to preserve the peace and enforce the laws, I arrived at this place this morning. Both before and since my arrival, complaints of a grave character have been made to me of certain proceedings of your honorable body. As chief magistrate, it is my duty to see that impartial justice shall be done, uninfluenced either by the excitement here or in your city.

I think before any decisive measure shall be adopted, that I ought to hear the allegations and defenses of all parties. By adopting this course I have some hope that the evils of war may be averted, and, at any rate, I will be enabled by it to understand the true merits of the present difficulties, and shape my course with reference to law and justice.

For these reasons I have to request that you will send out to me at this place, one or more well-informed and discreet persons, who will be capable of laying before me your version of the matter, and of receiving from me such explanations and resolutions as may be determined on.

Col. Elam L. Freeman will present you this note in the character of a herald from the Governor. You will respect his character as such and permit him to pass and repass free from molestation.

Your messengers are assured of protection in person and property, and will be returned to you in safety.

I am, gentlemen, with high consideration most respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Thomas Ford.

Governor and Commander in Chief.

Joseph H. Jackson at Nauvoo.

I immediately notified the City Council to meet in session at 4 P.M. About 11 A.M. a rumor was circulated at General Dunham's headquarters that Joseph H. Jackson was seen at Davidson Hibberd's. He [Dunham] ordered out a posse to arrest him, which went accordingly, but returned without success.

At 4 P.M. I met with the City Council, when the affidavits of the following persons were read—namely Isaac Morley, Gardner Snow, John Edmiston, Edward Durfee, Solomon Hancock, William Gardner, John G. Lofton, Allen T. Waite, James Guyman, Obadiah Bowen, Alvah Tippetts, Hiram B. Mount, John Cunningham, Cyrus Canfield, Gilbert Belknap, Anson Call, David Evans, William E. Horner, Stephen Markham, Thomas G. Wilson, John P. Greene, John M. Bernhisel, Truman Gillett, Jr., Carlos W. Lyon, and H. T. Hugins; when Dr. J. M. Bernhisel, Councilor John Taylor, and Dr. Willard Richards were appointed by the council to return with the express to the Governor at Carthage, and carry said affidavits with the following letter:

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Letter: Joseph Smith to Governor Ford—Submitting Documents.

Nauvoo, June 21, 1844.

Sir—The affidavits and handbills herewith connected, are submitted for your Excellency's consideration.

Respectfully, I have the honor to be your Excellency's obedient servant,

Joseph Smith.

Thomas Ford, Governor of Illinois, Carthage.

Messrs. Taylor and Bernhisel went accordingly, but Dr. Richards tarried to prepare additional documents.

The following affidavit was taken:

Affidavit: John P. Greene—Joseph H. Jackson,—Threatens Prophet's Life.

State of Illinois, Hancock Co.,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

June 21st, 1844.—Personally appeared John P. Greene before me, Willard Richards, recorder of said city; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on or about the 27th day of May, 1844, while at Hamilton's tavern, in Carthage, county aforesaid, in company with Joseph Smith and others, Robert D. Foster called deponent into a private room, and there and then said, "For God's sake, don't suffer that man, Joseph Smith, to go out of doors; for if he steps outside of the door his blood will be spilt;" to which statement deponent replied he had no such fears; when said Foster confirmed said statements with considerable emotion, and said he knew that Smith could not go out of doors, but his blood would be spilt.

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Deponent asked Foster who would do it. Foster said he would not tell; but he knew the proud spirit of Jackson, that he would not be insulted, and that he would kill Joseph Smith if he had to die on the spot; and there were many others in Carthage who would assist to do the same thing. Joseph H. Jackson was in the house below at the time.

A day or two previous to the above conversation, while at Carthage aforesaid, deponent heard Joseph H. Jackson say that Joseph Smith was the damnedest rascal in the world, and he would be damned if he did not take vengeance on him, if he had to follow him to the Rocky Mountains; and said Jackson made many more such like threats against Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith.

John P. Greene.

Sworn and subscribed this 21st day of June, 1844, before me,

523[Seal]
Willard Richards,

Recorder of the city of Nauvoo.

And as this affidavit confirms what was told me in Carthage, I made the following affidavit:

Affidavit: Joseph Smith—Conspiracy Against Affiant's Life.

State of Illinois,

County of Hancock. ss.

City of Nauvoo, June 21st, 1844.

Personally appeared Joseph Smith before me, Willard Richards, recorder of the City of Nauvoo; and after being duly sworn deposeth and saith that while at Hamilton's tavern at Carthage, in the county aforesaid, on or about the 27th day of May, 1844, whither deponent had gone to transact business in the Circuit Court of the county aforesaid, Charles A. Foster took deponent into a private room, and told deponent there was a conspiracy against the life of deponent, and that deponent had not better go out of doors. If he did, his blood would be shed. Foster said he was deponent's friend, and did not want to see bloodshed.

Joseph Smith.

[Seal]

Sworn and subscribed this 21st day of June, 1844, before me,

Willard Richards,

Recorder of the City of Nauvoo.

I instructed my clerks, Willard Richards, William Clayton, Thomas Bullock and John McEwan, to prepare all necessary papers and affidavits ready to be sent to the Governor tomorrow morning.

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Joseph Jackson made the two following affidavits:

Affidavit: Joseph Jackson—Francis M. Higbee's Threat to Kill the Prophet.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss

On the 21st day of June, 1844, came before me, W. W. Phelps, clerk of the Mayor's Court, Joseph Jackson: and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on Tuesday, the 11th instant, he was in Nauvoo, when Francis M. Higbee, while speaking of the destruction of the printing press, said he was very sorry, for the proprietors had set up that press for the destruction of the city, and that he meant to kill Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith; and he saith no further.

Joseph Jackson.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 21st day of June, 1844.

William W. Phelps, Clerk M. C.

Affidavit: Joseph Jackson—Reporting Mob at Pilot Grove.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss

On the 21st day of June, 1844, came before me, W. W. Phelps, clerk of the Mayor's Court for said city, Joseph Jackson; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith, that on the 19th day of June instant, at his residence near Pilot Grove, in the afternoon, about twenty-four persons fired about twenty-six guns at him, and that the balls whistled close by his head. Thus this mob, of which John McKay was one, fired about one hundred guns, but not all at your affiant; and that this mob was very noisy, cursing and swearing that they would kill every damned Mormon; and he says no further.

Joseph Jackson.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 21st day of June, 1844.

William W. Phelps, Clerk M. C.

At 7 P.M. James Emmett went by order of the Sergeant of the Guard at the Stone House to the Major-General and reported the crew of the Maid of Iowa for firing five guns contrary to orders, which were, that any firing of guns was an alarm.

After the news had reached the city of the Governor's arrival at Carthage, an express was sent to Keokuk to stop an express which I had sent to the Governor at Springfield before I had learned of his arrival at Carthage.

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An officer of the United States army, having arrested a deserter, came to Nauvoo, and stayed at my house all night.

Col. Brewer and lady arrived at the Mansion about 9 P.M. Also James W. Woods, Esq., my attorney from Burlington.

At 10 P.M., Private—- Minor gave information that as he was passing, an hour since, about two miles out of the city to his home, he was fired upon by some unknown person. General Stephen Markham ordered out a detachment to proceed to the designated place, scour that part of the country, and see that all was right.

[Saturday, June 22.—]

Letter: Joseph Smith to Governor Ford—Inviting the Governor to Come to Nauvoo and Investigate Conditions.

Nauvoo, Saturday Morning, June 22, 1844.

To His Excellent Thomas Ford, Governor:

Dear Sir.—I this morning forward you the remainder of the affidavits which are ready to present to you, by the hands of a gentleman who is fully competent to give you information on the whole subject which has been the cause of the origin of our present difficulties. I would respectfully recommend the bearer, Col. Woodworth, as one of my aides, and a man whose testimony can be relied upon.

I presume you are already convinced that it would be altogether unsafe for me or any of the City Council to come to Carthage on account of the vast excitement which has been got up by false report and libelous publications. Nothing could afford me a greater pleasure than a privilege of investigating the whole subject before your Excellency in person; for I have ever held myself in readiness to comply with your orders and answer for my proceedings before any legal tribunal in the state.

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I would hereby respectfully pray your Excellency to come to Nauvoo, if congenial with your feelings, and give us a privilege of laying the whole matter before you in its true colors, and where abundance of testimony can be forthcoming, to prove every point by disinterested persons—men of character and of worth and notoriety, strangers—who were here all the time. But I am satisfied your Excellency does not wish men to expose the lives of the citizens of this place by requiring them to put themselves into the power of an infuriated, blood-thirsty mob, a part of whom have already several times fired upon our people without the least shadow of cause or provocation.

I am informed this morning that some gentleman has made affidavit that he had a private conversation with me, in which I stated that I had secret correspondence with you, &c. If any person has been wicked enough to do this, he is a perjured villain; for in the first place, I do not suffer myself to hold private conversation with any stranger; and, in the second place, I have never even intimated anything of the kind as having secret correspondence with your Excellency.

Our troubles are invariably brought upon us by falsehoods and misrepresentations by designing men. We have ever held ourselves amenable to the law; and, for myself, sir, I am ever ready to conform to and support the laws and Constitution, even at the expense of my life. I have never in the least offered any resistance to law or lawful process, which is a well-known fact to the general public; all of which circumstances make us the more anxious to have you come to Nauvoo and investigate the whole matter.

Now, sir, is it not an easy matter to distinguish between those who have pledged themselves to exterminate innocent men, women and children, and those who have only stood in their own defense, and in defense of their innocent families, and that, too, in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country, as required by the oaths, and as good and law-abiding citizens?

In regard to the destruction of the press, the truth only needs to be presented before your Excellency to satisfy you of the justice of the proceedings. The press was established by a set of men who had already set themselves at defiance of the law and authorities of the city, and had threatened the lives of some of its principal officers, and who also made it no private matter that the press was established for the express purpose of destroying the city, as will be shown by the affidavit of Joseph Jackson, and as they stated to me in their threats.

Mr. Babbitt informs me that reports are in circulation that we have taken property which belongs to the Messrs. Law and others. There has been no property meddled with, to my knowledge, belonging to any person, except property we have purchased of the rightful owners.

Mr. Law turned over some property to a Mr. Hicks, to pay a debt. This I purchased of Mr. Hicks, and I am responsible to him for the amount. We have been especially careful to preserve the property of those who are exciting the public against us, inasmuch as we know that every means would be used which could be invented to raise excitement; and we have appointed the police to watch this property and see that no harm was done to it by any person, as they had tried to fire their own building and were detected in the act. The fire was extinguished by the policemen, and no property damaged.

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There have been no prisoners taken in this city, neither any person held as hostage, only some who are residents of this place, who had broken the laws. No stranger has been interfered with or detained in the city under any circumstances.

In haste, I have the honor to remain, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

Joseph Smith.

Lieut.-Gen. N. L.

This letter was accompanied by other affidavits, and was sent by Lucien Woodworth, who was delegated to go in place of Dr. Richards. He started at noon in company with Squire Woods of Burlington.